Certain smectic liquid-crystalline mesophases of chiral materials have been shown to exhibit both ferroelectric and pyroelectric properties. Consequently, these phenomena recently have been evaluated for their device potential. For example, these modifications have been proposed for use in displays, heat sensors, linear arrays, and spatial light modulators. Success of these ferroelectric media in these applications is primarily dependent on the configuration of the device, and on understanding and utilizing the nature of the physical properties of the material. In this paper macroscopic properties such as spontaneous polarization, helical structuring, and phase behavior are discussed in terms of the microscopic interactions of the constituent molecules of the phase. The exploitation of these properties in various device geometries is also investigated.